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Uses the story of teens trying to extend the hours of their "Teen Canteen" as a vehicle for explaining customs, moral codes, and laws.
This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Producer: Coronet Instructional Films
Audio/Visual: Sd, B&W
Keywords: Social guidance; Law; Teenagers
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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Subject: But That;s Not all That Comes out of The Capitol Bldg!
The "Teen Canteen" has other issues. The health department wants everybody behind that counter to wear a hair net (looks gay but so what, that's the law). They also need health cards. The books need to be audited by an outside party and the paperwork kept for 7 yrs per the IRS. They need a permit from the city to use those premises for that use, the air quality has to be checked and the findings documented; is this location and its furnishings wheelchair accessible? And of course the EPA might wanta close em down because...well, just because that's what they like to do.
So the closing time is just one of a multitude of things that these mid 20th century entrepeneurs would have to address if this was 2012.
The good ol days. Boy have things changed.
Dry as a Triscut. Low on campiness
Subject: You WILL Conform!
Steve Nordby, below, has nailed it. This film is all about instructing teens to obey laws, moral codes and customs. By using the trivial question of how late the "Teen Canteen" should stay open,
it sidesteps the far more serious question of what to do when the "social controls" are used to an evil end---such as for the oppression of minority groups as was true throughout the South when this film was made. I wonder whether any kids watching this in, say, Montgomery in 1949, thought about that or raised the question in class...I rather doubt it.
Subject: Too heavy
Somehow I found the scrip pretentious, and the narration overbearing and repetitive at times.
All in all, a mediocre production.
Subject: Moral codes and Janet Jackson
You can't honestly believe Janet Jackson decided all on her own on what clothes to wear and how to choreograph that stunt.
Of course, ALL the media and entertainment corporations involved had to sign off on this, or nearly all. I can imagine the discussions --- either on how this would appear 'hip', OR more likely, on how it would generate controversy, OR even MORE CYNICALLY, on how Jackon's "risque" (to echo a term my mother would use) performance might generate a backlash serving the interests of the Authorities.
Steve Nordby -
Subject: Law and social guidance
This film is rather accurate from a particular sociological prespective. Social control is about obediance. The adults rationalize conformity as being in the best interest of the teens.
Now, what about social change? Has there ever been a social guidance film on social change? Let me try: "Hey kids, we are part of the community, so if we want to stay open late, it is our *lawful* right. It is a *good* idea to let kids decide for themselves how late they want to stay out so they learn a sense and limits of a 24 hour day, and besides it is *customary* for teens to stay up late!"
Oh but I forgot it's the 1950's, and it was a bad idea to rock the boat. Just ask Rosa Parks. It was lawful, customary, and (in the moral sense of many whites) morally correct for blacks to sit at the back of the bus. So don't cause trouble. Don't try to change. Just obey.
Film Fan -
The terminology may change, but the "Social Controls" outlined in this film are still in operation today. The adult advisors guide a group of young leaders to make their own decision about the closing hours of their "Teen Canteen."
An example of 50s oppression? Hardly. "Custom," "Moral Code," and "the Law" were explained to Janet Jackson after her 2004 Superbowl "exposure." The FCC will tell you that if Custom and Moral Code fail, the Law will step in with hefty fines. The guards et al. at Abu Ghraib prison, I'm sure, have a lot to say about offending "Custom" and "Moral Code," not to mention "the Law."
The teens don't want to offend the surrounding businesses so that a curfew law gets passed against their canteen. They decide to be good neighbors and close a half hour earlier.
Wisdom beyond their years...
Subject: Social Coercion in Small Town America
This 1949 Coronet film shows the onset of the codification of 1950ÃÂs conformity. The clean-up committee of the ÃÂTeen CanteenÃÂ in a small town decides they need to close earlier to get home by 11:00 p.m. Betty, Jean and Jack call in their adult advisors Mrs. Brown and Mr. Parks. ÃÂI have heard people talking about your late hours here,ÃÂ Mr. Brown warns them. The town just might pass a law to get the canteen closed. Staying open so late isnÃÂt ÃÂcustomary in this town.ÃÂ Mr. Brown gives the kids an oppressive lecture about laws and social customs that show how easy it was for America to fall into the red-baiting traps of the upcoming McCarthy era. A ponderous off-screen narrator explains how social control is used to enforce the ÃÂlaws and social contractsÃÂ that we live under. What are laws? ÃÂLaws are what we agree to be right.ÃÂ What happens to someone whose values are different than what the majority of citizens believe to be their ÃÂmoral code?ÃÂ ÃÂHe looses social status,ÃÂ the narrator warns, ÃÂhe no longer belongs, heÃÂs an OUTCAST.ÃÂ We then see montage of newspaper headlines about the consequences of breaking the laws, one of which is ÃÂU.S. Court Dooms Traitor.ÃÂ McCarthyism was just waiting to happen. The members of the Teen Canteen vote to shorten their hours voluntarily before the town comes down on them. They submit to community pressure to do whatÃÂs ÃÂcustomary.ÃÂ ItÃÂs a civics lesson, but a depressing one.
Subject: When in doubt,, contact big people.
The teens have problems when their canteen is closing at 11, not all the help remain to help clean up! So, with the help of Edward from Dating Do's and Don'ts and another gal whom I'm sure Ive seen in another Coronet film, they get the adults together and discuss what should they do. Somehow this discussion ties into whats right and whats wrong (eg Teens have to do what adults tell them to do) and somehoe they come across the idea to close at 10:30 so that the other person will stay and help clean up. Why not just FIRE the ditcher?
Subject: Teen Canteen Uber Alles
A charming little short that describes the different levels of social controls: Custom, Moral Codes, and Law that govern the way we are supposed to act within our community.
Trouble brews in the local Teen Canteen... some of the members are skipping out on cleanup duty. Is the canteen open too late? Should it close sooner? Who should determine this?
Not terribly kitschy... one girl seems FAR too pleased that she's representative of the moral codes.